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Mallon scouting, gives 'I love USA' bracelets

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PITTSFORD, N.Y. – U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon’s presence is being felt by prospective team members this week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

Mallon walked among the galleries Friday watching how Americans are responding to the start of an important six event run up to the team’s selection.

“I did see Meg out there different times today,” Brittany Lincicome said after the first round.

Mallon’s presence in galleries adds to the pressure players feel trying to qualify, but that’s exactly why she is here, to see how players respond to pressure. Assistant captains Dottie Pepper and Laura Diaz also are here. Diaz is playing.

“The Solheim Cup is a different beast,” Mallon said. “Players in the nine Solheim Cups I’ve been a part of, it’s actually ruined careers, because they were not ready for that stage. That’s what Dottie and Laura will be looking for, players in the next six events that do step up and are comfortable on a big stage, because it’s important to have that under you playing in the Solheim Cup.”

Three majors with double Solheim Cup points are at stake among these final six events leading to the end of qualifying. The team will be announced at the conclusion of the Ricoh Women’s British Open in the first week of August. The Solheim Cup is scheduled Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club.

“From this six weeks forward, this is when I’m really going to be paying attention,” Mallon said. “This is what’s going to be fun. There are some players, you throw the carrot out there, the Solheim Cup, and you see they respond. Other players will try too hard, looking at 20th [to get points], rather than looking to win a golf tournament. I told them if you are thinking about winning the golf tournament, everything takes care of itself. If you are thinking about finishing top 20, you’re going to finish 21st.”

Mallon hosted a dinner Tuesday night with prospective American team members in attendance. She handed out bracelets with the inscription “I love USA.” Lincicome wore it during Friday’s first round.

“I was going to wear it to remind myself to keep playing well to stay high enough on the points list,” Lincicome said. “It just kind of instills confidence.”

Mallon is also taking a small contingent of players to Colorado Golf Club next week to play the course. Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang, Lizette Salas and Lexi Thompson are all going. Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer are unable to attend, but Mallon is encouraging players to make trips to scout the course. She sent out emails to the top 30 American candidates telling them Colorado Golf Club was eager to welcome them to scout the course this summer.

Mallon won’t be playing along, even for fun. She endured a painful herniation of the L4 and L5 disks in her spine last year and hasn’t played golf in six months.